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Preview | Ingebrigtsen eyes third 1500/5000m double in Roma 2024

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  • Preview | Ingebrigtsen eyes third 1500/5000m double in Roma 2024

Still only 23, Jakob Ingebrigtsen of Norway is seeking a third consecutive European 1500m and 5000m double at the Roma 2024 European Athletics Championships from 7-12 June.

And given last Thursday’s dramatic 1500m win at Oslo in 3:29.74, which puts him top of the 2024 world list, he will surely like his chances.

But this phenomenal talent – who announced his senior championship potential by winning the European 1500 and 5000m titles in Berlin six years ago and retained both at the 2022 Munich edition – is wise enough to know that even he cannot afford to take victory for granted.

After successive defeats in the World Athletics Championships 1500m final to British athletes who have moved outside him around the final bend – Jake Wightman in 2022, Josh Kerr last year – the man who plans to defend his Olympic 1500m in Paris this summer will be wary of history repeating itself.

Ingebrigtsen lost again to Kerr in  Eugene on May 25, but his time of 3:45.60 – a little behind the Briton’s national record of 3:45.34 – was highly encouraging given that his winter preparations were blighted by Achilles tendon problems which forced him to miss the SPAR European Cross Country Championships and the indoor season. 

"I tried to fight him," Ingebrigtsen said of Kerr, "but today for me was more of a time trial.

“Of course, we’re racing, but it’s definitely some differences in terms of approach into this race because this, for some people, this is their final test, even before the Olympics in Paris. But this is not my final test. I think if anything, this is going to be an exciting summer. For myself, I think it’s very good.”

Very good became even better in Oslo and the Norwegian’s form is clearly on an upward trajectory in Olympic year.

But while Kerr will not be in Rome, his fellow Briton, Neil Gourley – fourth in Eugene in 3:47.74 after overcoming his own winter injury hitches which forced him to miss the World Athletics Indoor Championships in Glasgow  – will be. Gourley also chased Ingebrigtsen home at the European Indoor Championships last year, finishing a close second behind the Norwegian.

In terms of 2024 times, other challengers look likely to be Portugal’s Isaac Nader and Italy’s Pietro Arese, who were fourth and ninth respectively behind Ingebrigtsen in Oslo, in personal bests of 3:30.84 and 3:32.13, the latter a national record for Italy.

Ingebrigtsen will be looking carefully at the 19-year-old Dutch runner who in 2022 beat his own European U18 1500 and 3000m records – Niels Laros, who reached the 1500m final at the World Athletics Championships in Budapest last year at the age of 18.

Also very much in his thinking will be the fellow Norwegian still being coached by his estranged father, Gjert – namely Narve Gilje Nordas, who has run 3:33.87 this year but has a best of 3:29.47 and who finished a fraction behind him to take world bronze last summer. 

Nordas and Ndikumwenayo the main threats in the 5000m

Nordas is also on the entry-list to contest the 5000m, in which he has a personal best of 13:05.38. He showed his form most recently at the Stockholm Diamond League meeting on Sunday (2) in winning the 3000m in a fast 7:33.49.

The defending champion, who has a best of 12:48.45, will also concerned with the challenge posed by Thierry Ndikumwenayo, who won at the European Athletics Team Championships last summer and showed brilliant form in Oslo, setting a personal best of 12:48.10 to move ahead of Ingebrigtsen to second on the European all-time list.

Also in his sights will be Switzerland’s 25-year-old South Sudan-born Dominic Lobalu, who competed for the Athlete Refugee Team at the 2017 World Athletics Championships and emerged to prominence by winning the 3000m at the 2022 Stockholm Diamond League.

He set a personal best of 12:50.90 as he finished seventh in Oslo and showed his speed over 3000m in as he finished just 0.19 behind Nordas in 7:33.68. This will be his debut for Switzerland in a major event.  

There is another potential challenge to Ingebrigtsen over his longer distance in the solid form of Great Britain’s George Mills – son of former England football defender Danny – who finished seventh behind him in the Oslo 1500m, clocking 3:31.57, and who has run a sub-13 minute 5000m indoors this season.

Ndikumwenayo will also hold tangible medal chances in the 10,000m, where he set a personal best of 27:26.57. Lobalu, who set a personal best of 27:36.29 with a solo run at the Swiss Championships this season, is also doubling up.

Sweden’s former 800m star Andreas Almgren, who finished fourth in the Stockholm 3000m in a national record of 7:34.28 will be another strong contender. His 2024 personal best of 26:52.87, set in California on March 16, makes him the fastest runner present this year and the second fastest European 10,000m runner of all-time.

However it will take something good to wrest the title away from Crippa who ran an incredible last lap to win the 10,000m title in Munich 2022. However, this could potentially be the Italian's second race of the championships as he is also due to contest the half marathon at these championships. 

Other contenders include Belgium’s Isaac Kimeli, who has run a personal best of 27:07.97 this season, Britain’s Patrick Dever, who has also run a best this year, 27:08.81, and Tadesse Getahon, representing Israel, who has a 2024 best of 27:34.30.

Also look out for the French tandem of European cross country champion Yann Schrub and the flamboyant Jimmy Gressier who finished third and fourth in the 10,000m in Munich 2022. 

Italian medal hopes in the 800m and 3000m steeplechase

In the absence of reigning champion Mariano Garcia from Spain, the 800m offers an opportunity for home success thanks to the talent of Romanian-born Catalin Tecuceanu.

This 24-year-old, who became eligible to represent Italy from 2021, tops the entry-list through his personal best of 1:44.01 in Asti on May 23.

But he will face a strong French effort presented by European U23 champion Yanis Meziane, who has run 1:44.13 this season and has a best of 1:43.94, and Gabriel Tual, who has clocked 1:44.43 in 2024.

Elliot Giles of Britain, who has run 1:44.46 this season and set a British indoor record of 1:43.63 in 2021, has the class and experience to add another European medal following the bronze he earned in Amsterdam in 2016.

Ireland’s Mark English, European bronze medallist in 2014 and 2022, is also a proven championship performer who can never be written off.

Others to look out for include Spain’s Adrian Ben, last year’s European indoor champion in Istanbul. Dutch super-kid Laros has also entered the 800m as well as the 1500m.

Finland’s Topi Raitanen will defend his 3000m steeplechase title in what looks a very open competition.

Raitanen, who has a best of 8:16.57 from 2020, has run 8:21.00 this season but he will need to go faster if he is to head off the challenge of others such as Spain’s Daniel Arce, who is fastest European in the field this year with 8:12.28.

The French pairing of Djilani Bedrani and Alexis Miellet, respectively second and third on this season’s European list with 8:13.73 and 8:14.71, should also be in contention.

Home hopes will be carried by the 2022 bronze medallist Osama Zoghlami, who has run 8:19.54 this year, and Yassin Bouih, who has a 2024 best of 8:18.37.

And there is also the genuine prospect of Andorra's first ever medal in European Athletics Championships through Nahuel Carabana who has improved his national record to 8:16.04 this year.

Carabana made headlines in Munich 2022 when he stopped to assist an injured runner in the heats but the 24-year-old could make the headlines in his own right later this month.

Mike Rowbottom for European Athletics 

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